New findings on COX-2 arthritis drugs

The celebrated arthritis drug Celebrex has demonstrated additional benefits. A new study to assess the overall long- term safety of  Celebrex (celecoxib capsules) found that arthritis patients taking four times the recommended osteoarthritis  dose of the drug experienced fewer symptomatic gastrointestinal ulcers and ulcer complications than patients taking ibuprofen and diclofenac at their typical daily dose.

The study, funded by Searle and Pfizer Inc, also demonstrated differences on a variety of measures in renal and liver toxicity among those taking Celebrex or the traditional NSAID comparators, two of the world’s most widely prescribed drugs of this kind. Celebrex also showed no increase in thromboembolic or other cardiovascular-related events, even among non-aspirin users.

In comparison to Celebrex, ibuprofen and diclofenac were also associated with a significantly greater gastrointestinal blood loss — equivalent to two pints or more – – over the course of the study, even in patients not experiencing bleeding ulcers.

Announcement of these results coincides with the approval of Celebrex for limited use reimbursement by the Ontario Drug Benet (ODB) program. Celebrex is now approved for reimbursement for over 80% of Canadians, with reimbursement by all major private plans and by government plans in Alberta, Québec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.

Since the launch of Celebrex a year ago, it has become the top-prescribed arthritis medication,
outpacing all recent new drug introductions with 2.5 million prescriptions filled as of the end of February 2000.